George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 16 May 1769]

16. Rid over my dower Land in York, to shew that, and the Mill, to the Gentlemen appointed by the Genl. Court to value & report thereon. Came in to Breakfast. Dined at the Speakers and spent the Evening at Hays.

GW had been trying for at least the last two years to rent out the dower property in York County, because it was too far from Mount Vernon for him to inspect as often as he thought he should (Va. Gaz., P&D, 2 April 1767). “Middling Land under a Mans own eye,” he later remarked, “is more profitable than rich Land at a distance” (GW to John Parke Custis, 24 July 1776, ViHi). He had now decided to rent the property to Jacky Custis and thus consolidate all the Custis lands in York County under his name, if a place could be found near Mount Vernon to which the dower slaves on the York plantations could be moved and if the General Court, to which GW was responsible for the administration of Jacky’s estate, approved the transaction (GW to John Posey, 11 June 1769, DLC:GW; receipt from Edmund Pendleton, 23 Nov. 1769, ViHi: Custis Papers). Both conditions were fulfilled by 1771 when GW began to charge Jacky’s account £150 a year for the use of the “Land and Mill in York County as settled with the Genl. Court” (custis account book description begins GW’s Accounts Kept for Martha Parke Custis and John Parke Custis, 1760–75. Manuscript in Custis Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. description ends ). Claiborne’s plantation in King William County was rented to Jacky in 1778 (GW to James Hill, 27 Oct. 1778, DLC:GW).

The burgesses on this date sat as a committee of the whole to consider various British treason acts being cited in London as legal grounds for bringing leaders of colonial protests against Parliament’s taxes to England for trial. After a debate, four resolutions were put before the house and were promptly passed. Known as the Virginia Resolves, they declared that the burgesses, with the consent of the governor and the council, had the sole right to impose taxes on the inhabitants of Virginia; that Virginians had a right to petition the king for redress of grievances; that Virginians could be tried for treason and other crimes only by established procedures in the established courts within the colony; and that an address should be sent to the king beseeching him “as the Father of all his people . . . to quiet the Minds of his loyal Subjects of this Colony, and to avert from them, those Dangers and Miseries which will ensue, from seizing and carrying beyond the Sea, any Persons residing in America, suspected of any Crime whatsoever, to be tried in any other Manner, than by the ancient and long established Course of Proceeding.” Before adjournment, the resolves were ordered to be sent to the assemblies of the other colonies, and a committee was appointed to write the petition to the king (JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1766–69, 214–15).

Index Entries